June 05, 2009

Melanie Green Explains Balance, Encouragement in Social Media

Baker & Daniels had ethics laws to keep in mind when establishing a social media presence and policy, Melanie Green told Ragan.com in its story "What's in Your Social Media Policy?" With seven locations (four in Indiana) and a total of about 750 employees, Green, the firm's director of business development and marketing, said the social media policy was a matter of balancing Indiana laws with encouragement to get involved.

Indiana ethics laws for law firms cover things such as confidentiality, appearing to offer legal advice, self-laudatory statements about oneself or one's firm, promoting successes, or posting recommendations or testimonials, the story reported. It would have been comparatively easy to restrict social media altogether, but Green said she and fellow communicators balanced the stringent parameters with training and support.

"We tried to use the rest of the policy to be encouraging and explain how to engage in that audience," Green told Ragan.com. "We've done coaching and training on things people can talk about. For example, on Twitter, 'Reading an article as it relates to the practice' or 'Working on prepping for document review' or 'Traveling to meet with a client,' all of that you can say. We've given examples of things that are OK to say but told them to be somewhat personal, using the medium as a tool to build relationships."

Green has approached lawyers personally to ask them to start a Twitter account - and so far about 15 have joined, and 300 are on Facebook, the story reported. To accompany a request to join Twitter, Green said communicators give lists of recommended follows and personal training to make sure lawyers stick with it and stay engaged with the law community.

Baker & Daniels hasn't had any problems yet, but if it does see anything that's breached the line, Green told Ragan.com that they will refer the offender back to its social media policy.

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